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African Bush
Mar 15, 2006

I have a president who is in denial about HIV and a Health Minister who tells us to eat Beetroot as a HIV/AIDS policy.

I really wish there we more people like you Dr Rob in SA to rattle some feathers, even our Treatment Action Compaign boys[ladies] are loosing thier energies and CD4 soldiers in the process.

After you answered my "mother of all wooohooos" [the father was the love of my life who is unfortunately positive, and well he chose to leave me because he couldnt handle the the whole thing -Im still healing]. My causin disclosed her status [CD4 125] she is scared of taking treatment coz our public hospital system is not so "confidential" & because she is scared of more pain while on the pills. I dont know how else to encourage her. Ive gotten her the best in immune boosting pills [Traditional and Western] Im also scared for her in a way, when you start taking ARV drugs they kick your ass [well I think]

In the same box, my male causin who also lives in the same house his girlfriend told us she is positive & hasnt told him. I want to tell him because he is 21 and running around with the girls, he even has one ambitious girl he is seeing and Im worried about. But I feel its not my place I cant tell him his status unless his girlfriend tells him what should I do?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

It was hoped that after the World AIDS Conference was held in South Africa in July 2000 that attitudes would change. Unfortunately, it looks like they are not changing, or at least not changing quickly enough. Mbeki's inaction on AIDS is immoral. The Health Minister's advice about eating beetroot, garlic, lemons and olive oil sounds more like ingredients for dinner than a realistic approach to HIV/AIDS. The international community is trying to put pressure on South Africa to accept reality and we will continue to do so. South Africans must also demand access to better care and life-sustaining antiretroviral medications. Perhaps the TAC needs to use some of ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) tactics to focus attention on this crisis. One way or the other, some feathers certainly do need to be rattled! My foundation will continue to do all it can to provide crucial services to those in need and also to raise AIDS awareness through education and advocacy.

Regarding your cousin, a CD4 of 125 is worrisome. She needs more than "immune booting pills." She needs prophylaxis against PCP (Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia) and she needs HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy). The newer medications are much easier to take (only once or twice per day) and easier to tolerate (fewer side effects). Whether her public hospital system is "confidential" or not, she should not risk her health, her very life, because of fear of disclosure. Most people feel better when they begin HAART when they have such low CD4 numbers. Tell your cousin about this Web site. There is a wealth of basic information on this site and related links that could help her overcome her fears.

As for your other cousin's HIV-positive girlfriend, I would suggest you sit her down and have a heart-to-heart talk with her. Tell her you will help her tell your cousin about her positive status. You can talk to him together and have a plan for getting him tested, if he's placed himself at risk (unprotected sex).

I'm sorry to hear that the love of your life has chosen to leave you. Hopefully he will reconsider, once he's had time to come to grips with his new reality.

I know life is difficult for you and your extended family at the moment; however, please know you remain in my thoughts and if we all do our part, we can and will turn the tide of this pandemic.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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